You've likely heard of the so-called five love languages: words of affirmation, spending quality time together, gift-giving, acts of service, and physical touch. Time reports they were the brainchild of Southern Baptist pastor Gary Chapman, who three decades ago published The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. But you probably haven't heard much about research tied to it since. That's because the concept has been "relatively under-explored by researchers," per a press release about a new exception to that. A study published in PLOS ONE has found that among heterosexual couples, relationship satisfaction was higher when each partner's love language (LL) preference was honored. "To our knowledge, this is the first study that found empirical support for LL hypothesis," it reads.
"Our study provides novel evidence in support of Chapman's notion that speaking one’s partner love language leads to higher quality relationships and create a positive emotional climate within the couple," the study states. "In particular, the findings supported our major hypothesis that individuals whose partners express love in the way they prefer to receive it experience elevated relationship and sexual satisfaction." Researchers led by Olha Mostova of the University of Warsaw, Poland, studied 100 heterosexual couples between the ages of 17 and 58 who had been in a relationship for quite the range of time: 6 months to 24 years.
The researchers found that quality time was the most frequently declared LL in terms of preference, followed by physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts. The authors suggest the findings could be used in marital and relationship counseling, and write that even laymen can make use of the findings: "Learning to recognize and react to one’s partners love needs may be an important skill for building relationship satisfaction in both partners." (More relationship stories.)